Musical Chimes Tries Whittingham Challenge

Musical Chimes Tries Whittingham Challenge
Photo: Coady Photography/Jeff Coady
Continental Red, 8-year-old seeking Whittingham victory.
(from Hollywood Park report)
The filly Musical Chimes will attempt to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Dahlia when she takes on males in Saturday's $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park.

Vangelis, a major stakes winner from France, Sabiango, a multiple group I stakes winner in his native Germany now leased by noted "horse whisperer" Monty Roberts, and California-bred millionaire Continental Red are among an eclectic group of eleven set to contest the Whittingham.

The Whittingham, at 1 1/4 miles on turf, is part of a graded stakes tripleheader that includes the $250,000 Californian (gr. II), final stepping stone to the July 10 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), and $175,000 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies.

A 4-year-old filly trained by Neil Drysdale for Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum of Dubai, Musical Chimes will strive to emulate the only two females ever to win the Whittingham, older female champion Typecast in 1972 and 1974 turf champion Dahlia in 1976. Jockey Kent Desormeaux has the call. Hall of Famers Drysdale and Desormeaux teamed to win the Whittingham with Storm Trooper in 1998 and White Heart in 2000. Drysdale also won with Both Ends Burning in 1985 and Political Ambition in 1988.

Musical Chimes began her career in France where she won a group I event in May of last year. After joining the Drysdale barn, the Kentucky-bred daughter of In Excess was a fast-closing second in two grade I stakes, the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park's Matriarch. She began her 2004 season facing males for the first time and finished fast to be second in a $54,000 allowance race.

Asked why he had chosen Saturday's spot for the bay filly, Drysdale said, "It's a grade one."

Musical Chimes, whose 2-3-2 record in 12 career starts has netted $526,989, will be looking for her first victory since capturing a group I event for fillies and mares at Longchamp in France thirteen months ago.

Vangelis has won group II and III stakes races in France for trainer Alain Dupre. The 5-year-old gray will bring earnings of $147,294 from a 4-0-2 mark in 13 starts into his United States debut.

German-bred Sabiango is the most accomplished of the European contingent. The 6-year-old chestnut's five wins in 15 starts include a pair of group I stakes and a group II. Leased by Roberts, inspiration for the book and motion picture, "The Horse Whisperer," Sabiango has earned $494,333.

At the age of eight, Continental Red remains as competitive as ever with his last start a neck loss to Rhythm Mad in the May 8 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap. It was his 61st career start. Said jockey Corey Nakatani afterward, "Old Continental Red lays his heart out there all the time. I wish they were all that way." The chestnut gelding, trained by Ian Jory for Sharon Fitzpatrick, has banked $1,165,558 from a 7-14-12 career slate.

Continuously, who was placed first in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) in November after the disqualification of Epicentre for interference. The 5-year-old will make his first start since February for the Bobby Frankel stable.

Just Wonder won the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) on the turf at Hollywood last June but after a dismal effort in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington in August, he went on the shelf until March. The 4-year-old English-bred colt rallied to finish fifth in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his second start back on May 1 and has registered a series of strong works on the turf course here since.

$350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT), 3 & up, 1 1/4 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Musical Chimes, Kent Desormeaux, 113
2. Irish Warrior, Jose Valdivia Jr., 115
3. Sabiango, Tyler Baze, 116
4. Bayamo, David Flores, 113
5. Just Wonder, Mike Smith, 116
6. Gassan Royal, Alex Bisono, 113
7. Seinne, Mick Ruis, 113
8. Hawkeye, Goncalino Almeida, 112
9. Continuously, Alex Solis, 116
10. Continental Red, Jon Court, 116
11. Vangelis, Javier Santiago, 117

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